At one point in Grey Gardens, Mary Louise Wilson, doing an amazing performance as Edith Beale, shrieks to Little Edie, "Shut-up! It's a goddamn beautiful day! Shut-up." There were a lot of lines that I laughed at during the performance, but this one I laughed at in the manner you do when you recognize a truth, something so correct and apt, something that you wish you had knew how to say before it was uttered, and you just laugh. It is cloudy out today, yes, and the forecast calls for thunderstorms, but the day is still beautiful - they all are - and more often than not, these beautiful days are ruined by people, including yourself, myself, that won't shut up and just take it in. It is possible to talk through things, to talk and fret and worry and spew an interior monologue, the neverending one that started with the cries of infancy and seems like it will continue right on until death, a base solipsism, an eternal neediness, feeling sorry for yourself or for something, and in such cases, there have been a few of them this week, I wish that I had had Edith Beale there to shriek at me to shut-up, that it was a goddamn beautiful day.
I had been suspicious of a musical production of this quirky documentary, thinking that such a thing could only be glib, but decided I had to see it yesterday since it is closing today and such amazing things had been said about the play. I had to see how such a transfer could work, if it could. It does. The first half of the play is set in 1941 and shows Grey Gardens, the estate, in its prime, shows Little Edie with the world before her - all stuff that is only alluded to in the documentary. The second half of the play is closer to the actual documentary, the estate falling into the ground and being overrun with cats, Little Edie and Edith bickering and being totally crazy.
The play is the stellar thing it is because of its two leading ladies. Mary Louise Wilson does an amazing job as the late Edith Beale. And then there is Christine Ebersole, who plays the 1941 Edith Beale in the first act and then in the second half of the play does the role, does it astonishingly well, of Little Edie. Christine Ebersole inhabits the role of Little Edie so amazingly well.
The audience was totally head over heels in love with these two actresses and were showing their love totally unashamed since it was closing weekend. The play opened with Mary Louise Wilson getting a few minutes of applause when she came onstage. The same occurred at the opening of Act Two when Ebersole opens the second half as Little Edie. It was again several minutes of applause and cheering, so much so that even Ebersole seemed overwhelmed by it and buried her head in her hands. The amount of love in that theater, the amount of energy (the same thing? energy=love?), made me so happy and I left that theater totally high off of the experience I had just had - the amount of love in the audience, as well as the superb performance. It was a magical couple of hours and coming out into the bright lights and packed streets of Times Square, I giggled and giggled, unable to handle how overwhelming everything was.